To this day, the Seagull Watch Museum still preserves a photo of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush wearing a Seagull watch while fishing on Gulf Stream. This photo was taken by AP photographer Kathy Willens, with the caption "Waves splash President-elect George Bush as he casts a line while surf-fishing in Gulf Stream, Fla., Nov. 12, 1988, shortly after winning the 1988 Presidential election."
Liu Yi, an employee of Seagull for 40 years, said that Bush wore that Seagull watch for three years. Upon discovering that Bush was a fan of Seagull watches, Factory Director Wang Yazhou had once gifted Bush and his wife, the first lady Barbara a pair of watches, to which Bush wrote back a thank-you letter. The letter read:
Dear Mr. Wang,
Barbara and I thank you very much for your kind letter and the "Seagull" wristwatches you presented though Ambassador Lord during our visit to the People's Republic of China.
As longtime friends of the Chinese people, we are delighted to be remembered with these gifts -- and they are perfect keepsakes of goodwill from you and your entire staff.
Please know that your warm sentiments mean a great deal and that all of you have our best wishes for the future.
Mr. Wang Yazhou
Tianjin Watch Factory
Fukang Road, Nankai District, Tianjin
The Seagull watch bore witness to the friendship between China and the United States. This friendship at the highest level of leadership highlighted the improving ties between the two powers during that era.
On a people-to-people level, the appreciation shown by President Bush, an internationally renowned figure, towards the Chinese Seagull watch spoke to the brand's gradually growing reputation and importance. His wearing of the watch symbolized the recognition that Chinese watches, represented by innovators like Seagull, were gaining with world leaders and the general public alike.
For China's watchmaking industry, Seagull's gifted watches and the response from President Bush marked a milestone in Chinese brands being accepted and worn with pride globally. This historic moment demonstrated that China was capable of manufacturing world-class watches appreciated by connoisseurs worldwide.
The friendship between George H.W. Bush and his Seagull watch highlighted that Sino-U.S. relations could be advanced by cultural exchanges. And for Seagull, it marked a significant achievement in its decades-long journey to gain international recognition for Chinese watchmaking excellence.